Scuff Happens

What did you learn this week?  I learned that there are slippers that have to have cardboard inside of them, and that it's not a bad thing.  I learned that some edgings have to look sexy from both sides of the work, but it can be done.  And I learned that even if you successfully avoid learning how to make wrong-side right and left-leaning decreases by not knitting lace, you still may not be safe from them.  If you invent something like this, for example:

Yep, on Monday, I did not know how to knit scuff slippers.  It's Friday, and now I do.  Crazy! 

First of all, if you go looking around for patterns of scuff slippers, the first thing you will notice is that they are all for felted slippers.  Nothing wrong with that, you understand, but because mine were going to be stranded colorwork, I didn't want to felt them.  Which means I had to devise some method of stiffening the soles that could hide underneath a leather layer, still be a little bit flexible, not cost too much, and be easy for knitters to get.  Oh, and extra stiff-leather soles are out because most of us don't have the leatherworking tools needed to shape and sew them.  Bother.

Enter the very smart Katie Starzman, whose book:

Scuff 2.jpg

reveals her secret:  Chipboard!  It's that stiff brown cardboard you can get at the craft store in sheets.  It's easily cut with scissors, inexpensive, and easy to find, and works like a charm.  Thanks, Katie!

So what about those wrong-side increases?  Well, it's my own fault, as usual:  When I design, I imagine the way I want the finished project to look, and then amass or invent the actual skills to get myself there.  Which is a lot like putting a weathervane up in the air and then trying to build a house underneath it, but there you go; I'm not much for Order of Operations.

I wanted pointy points on the instep, and I wanted them to be decreased, not increased.  OK, to decrease them, the slipper can to start out with a provisional CO, from which you pick up and knit the pointy points at the end. Done.  But the rate of decreases worked on the RS is just not steep enough.  So?  Make decreases every row (rather than every other), which means some of them (about half, as it  turns out) will be happening on the WS.  Here's the ridiculous part Mary-ish part: Rather than take the time to actually learn the new skill I needed, I just made one up.  On the WS row, every time I needed a decrease, I would turn the work around to the RS, mirror-knit it (cough*thanks Mary B* cough), turn the work around again and proceed.  I can tell that it worked fine, because the decreases are all leaning in the proper directions.

Only when it came time to write the pattern for YOU, Gentle Knitters, did I go looking and learn that you can actually perform those maneuvers quite easily from the WS (as God intended), and they even have their own proper names!  CLICK HERE for excellent knowledge from the learned and wise Sandi R on these sexy party tricks.  And Lace Knitters who are smarter than me and have been forever, thank you for so graciously witholding your derision.  Feel free to smirk, though.

And last of all, that edging.  I knew I wanted it to be applied knitted cord, but it wasn't until I got to the place where the edge of the slipper switches from being the "right side" to being the "wrong side" (like the edge of a jacket lapel) that I realized what a truly useful thing knitted cord edging is.  It looks equally tidy from either side.  Elizabeth Zimmermann has been trying to tell me this for years, but I didn't receive her full message until now.  Thanks, Knitting!

So that's three things I learned in just one week.  I have to admit I'm feeling a little bit smug.  Which is good, because a lot of other experiences I had this week were (heinous) less elucidating.